Monday, August 18, 2008

School Start Up: For Parents, Then Teens

Besides Sharpening the Pencils…What to Do?
Whether your children are taught at home or in a public, private or Christian school, about now you’re probably gearing up again for the annual academic adventure. So what should you be doing as a parent to help your student(s) prep for the year to come?
1) Prayer – As our kids become teens and a giant filter seems to descend between our mouths and their ears, we may begin to wonder how much of an impact we can have in their lives. Don’t worry, they still hear you. But if we really want to help our kids, we’ll direct more of what we say to God. Pray not just for your son or daughter, but also for their friends, their teachers and the school administration. (Colossians 1:9)
2) Supplies – Check school letters and websites for supply lists, but realize that some teachers will tack in extras after the year begins. (Doubt the son who says “The school is supplying most stuff. We just need to buy rubber bands and paper clips.” He’s just quoting Bart Simpson.)
3) Clothes – Good time to discuss “Needs vs. Wants”, “Materialism”, “Why We Don’t Have to Keep Up With the Joneses” and “Modesty”. Also get to know the school dress code before hitting the stores.
4) Financial Plan for the Year – There will be all kinds of financial decisions that come up during the year, such as the plain yearbook versus the yearbook with 3-D Holographic Projections, banquets and student trips. Discuss now what you’ll help with financially and what you won’t.
5) Sleep – If your kids have settled into a midnight to noon sleep schedule, it might be good to break it now. Do a little research on the average sleep requirements for different ages, but you probably know better than anyone how much your son or daughter needs, not just to get by, but to thrive.
6) Academic Schedule – Find out from school counselors and colleges what classes are required for graduation as well as college admission.
7) Daily Homework Plan – Talk with your student before the school year about your expectations for study time. If you will be asking your student regularly about homework and checking it, let ‘em know now – then follow through.
8) Faith Challenges – If your kids are going to public school, there will be challenges to their beliefs in the classroom. Discuss this before the school year begins and find resources that will help student deal with the attacks on Christianity that may come in biology, English, history or even an art class.
9) Moral Challenges – Even if your kids go to a Christian school, there will be more pressure in the year to come from other students to cheat on tests, party, experiment sexually and some special surprise temptations. Academics are important, but shouldn’t as a rule take priority over church, youth group and personal and family devotions. Your student needs all of those resources to meet the challenges to come.
10) Prayer. Yeah, I said it before. It’s that important.

The new school year is starting and though you’re looking forward to seeing friends, you’re dreading the same old, same old. How can you avoid boredom for the next nine months? Perhaps you can follow these simple steps to a more interesting school year.
1) TRY OUT FOR A NEW SPORT OR ACTIVITY – Haven’t ever gone out for a school sport? You might not make the basketball or soccer team, but what’s the big deal if get cut? Maybe you’ve always done sports. So how about the school newspaper or yearbook? A school play or musical? Perhaps even a community service group, like key club? More stuff looks good on the college resume. But more important, it could be fun.
2) WRITE ABOUT JESUS IN A SCHOOL PAPER – Maybe in a “What I Did Last Summer” paper, you can write about a church mission trip. If you get a choice for a history paper, you could write about the Apostle Paul or Martin Luther or the Azusa Street Revival (look it up.) Get bold in a speech class and tell about how you became a Christian.
3) SIT IN A DIFFERENT PLACE FOR LUNCH – Do you sit at the same table or by the same tree every day at lunch? And with the same people? Get a friend and seek out someone who has no one. Or have lunch on top of the school sign. Whatever.
4) CHEER AT A LOW ATTENDANCE SPORTING EVENT – No, I’m not talking football. When I wrestled in high school, we didn’t exactly fill up the stands. The same might be true for your school’s bat mitten team. Get some friends someday, go to a game and cheer like crazy. Especially if no one else is doing it.
5) FIND A FRIEND THAT WILL KEEP YOU IN LINE – I don’t know what your temptations will be this year. Maybe to party. Maybe to cheat. Maybe it’s sexual temptation. Find a Christian friend that you can talk to about your temptation and agree that you will tell him or her when you’re tempted to give in.
6) IF THERE IS A CHRISTIAN CLUB AT YOUR SCHOOL: GO – Of course, if there’s not one, you could start one. If you go to a Christian school, maybe you could start a missions club. (A good time to start might be September 24th, when there is the national “See You At the Pole” event. Go to to find out more.)
7) FIND A TIME TO SPEND WITH GOD EVERY DAY – It might be morning when you talk to God about the day to come. It might be at night when you read a chapter of the Bible before you go to bed.
8) PRAY FOR YOUR TEACHER(S) – In Matthew 5:44 Jesus said, “Pray for those who persecute you”. Who persecutes us more than teachers? So pray for God to bless ‘em, and you’ll be amazed by what God does.
9) BRING A SNACK – Some day bake a pie and pass it around at lunch. Or check to see whether you can order a pizza for class. Surprise people.
10) CHANGE SOMEONE’S LIFE – Yeah, this year, make someone’s life better. You can do it. And your life will be better, too. And this year will be anything but dull.

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